Find out what Australian researchers are publishing in palliative care 

The following lists palliative care research primarily conducted by Australian research groups. The list is based on application of the CareSearch search filter for palliative care to identify articles held within the PubMed database and corresponding to the strongest evidence. Articles have been selected based on relevance and new articles are added on a weekly basis.

Whilst not an exhaustive list, the aim is to keep the community informed by providing a snapshot of recent research findings and planned studies in the Australian setting.

27 November 2023

'There's something they can do': Educating aged care staff about the trajectory of dementia, palliative care and the Namaste Care™ program: A mixed methods study.

Karacsony S, Abela MR, Eccleston C.


Objective: To evaluate outcomes of education about the dementia illness trajectory and Namaste Care™ program on aged care staff's knowledge, attitudes, self-perceived skills and competence.

Methods: A convergent mixed methods research design was adopted to compare the results of quantitative and qualitative data following an education intervention. Nurses and aged care staff (n = 35) undertook 2 × 2 h training sessions over 3 days. Data were collected pre- and post-intervention using three validated surveys. Qualitative data were collected through interviews and a focus group. Thematic analysis was used to generate themes. Quantitative and qualitative data were integrated and compared during interpretation and discussion of the findings.

Results: Significant improvements in knowledge, attitudes and skills survey scores from already published data were confirmed by the qualitative findings in this study. Three key themes were derived from the data, comprising dementia-related education and knowledge changes, recognising the benefits of the Namaste Care™ program, and the importance of changing practice.

Conclusions: Dementia education using the Namaste Care™ program enabled staff to identify gaps in knowledge and skills within their own practice. Staff perceived that the Namaste Care™ program can be a driver for practice change including palliative care to improve quality of life for people living in the advanced stages of dementia.

© 2023 The Authors. Australasian Journal on Ageing published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of AJA Inc’.

20 November 2023

Seeking alignment of end-of-life goals within the Australian pediatric context.

Vemuri S, Prentice TM.


In this article, we highlight the Australian pediatric palliative care context. We describe the way in which pediatricians may adopt 'directive' shared decision-making to align care plans with their perceptions of harm avoidance for the child. The degree to which 'directive alignment' is ethically appropriate or proportionate in the context of the clinical and social context of the child must be considered. Shared decision-making within palliative care continues to be a challenging dynamic to navigate for pediatricians.

Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

20 November 2023

Timely assessment of breathing-related distress in community palliative care: A multidisciplinary collaborative quality improvement project.

Rao-Newton A, Gallagher E, Mickelsen J, Sanchez C, Forby F, Andrews K, Hosie A, Sheehan C, DeNatale M, Agar M.


Background: Breathlessness is a common symptom for palliative patients that can cause distress and decrease function and quality of life. Palliative care services in Australia aim to routinely assess patients for breathing-related distress, but timely reassessment is not always achieved.

Objective: To improve the timeliness of breathlessness reassessment in a home-based community palliative care service in New South Wales for people with moderate-to-severe breathing-related distress. Breathing-related distress was defined as a Symptom Assessment Score for "breathing problems" of four or more.

Methods: This collaborative quality improvement (QI) project between SPHERE Palliative Care CAG, Stanford University mentors, and a Sydney metropolitan specialist palliative care service included a: (1) retrospective chart audit; (2) cause and effect analyses using a fishbone diagram; (3) development and implementation of key drivers and interventions; and (4) a pre-and-post evaluation of the timeliness of reassessment of breathing-related distress and changes in Symptom Assessment Scale scores for "breathing problems."

Results: Key interventions included multidisciplinary education sessions to facilitate buy-in, with nurses as case managers responsible for breathlessness reassessment and documentation of scores, access and training in electronic palliative care data entry software, fortnightly monitoring and reporting of breathing-related distress scores, and development of an educational flowchart. The proportion of patients reassessed within seven days of an initial nursing assessment of moderate-to-severe breathing-related distress increased from 34% at baseline to 92% at six months.

Conclusion: A local QI project increased the proportion of patients with a timely reassessment of their breathing-related distress in a community palliative care service.

20 November 2023

Objections to assisted dying within institutions: systemic solutions for rapprochement.

Peisah C, Sheppard A, Leung KC.


In this Matters Arising article, we outline how the recent article "The impact on patients of objections by institutions to assisted dying: a qualitative study of family caregivers' perceptions" (White et al., 2023 Mar 13;24(1):22) informed Voluntary Assisted Dying (VAD) implementation in our large Australian public health setting, where objections do not emanate from, but within, the institution. In reporting the harms to patients and caregivers created by institutional objection, White et al. provide an evidenced-based road map for potential potholes or risks associated with VAD implementation. We discuss the complexities emerging from the diverse views of health professionals and the ethical tensions arising from such, especially within certain specialties, and how we developed systemic strategies that support patients, caregivers and staff alike. We highlighted the need to shift from "Do you support VAD?" to "How can we support you as healthcare professionals to integrate VAD into your practice, in a way that complies with the legislation, meets the needs of patients and caregivers, and feels safe and does not compromise your moral stance?"

© 2023. The Author(s).

20 November 2023

Accuracy of oncologists' estimates of expected survival time in advanced cancer.

Nahm SH, Martin AJ, Clayton JM, Grimison P, Moth EB, Pavlakis N, Sjoquist K, Smith-Uffen MES, Tognela A, Vasista A, Stockler MR, Kiely BE.


Methods: We pooled 7 prospective studies in which observed survival times (OST) were compared with EST (median survival in a group of similar patients estimated at baseline by the treating oncologist). We hypothesized that EST would be well-calibrated (approximately 50% of EST longer than OST); imprecise (<30% of EST within 0.67 to 1.33 of OST); and that multiples of EST would provide well-calibrated scenarios for survival time: worst-case (approximately 10% of OST <1/4 of EST), typical (approximately 50% of OST within half to double EST), and best-case (approximately 10% of OST >3 times EST). Associations between baseline characteristics and calibration of EST were assessed.

Results: Characteristics of 1121 patients: median age 66 years, male 61%, primary site lung (40%) and upper gastro-intestinal (16%). The median OST was 8 months and EST was 9 months. Oncologists' estimates of EST were well-calibrated (50% longer than OST) and imprecise (28% within 0.67 to 1.33 of OST). Scenarios for survival time based on simple multiples of EST were well-calibrated: 8% of patients had an OST <1/4 their EST (worst-case), 56% had an OST within half to double their EST (typical), and 11% had an OST >3 their EST (best-case). Calibration was independent of age, sex, and cancer type.

Conclusions: Oncologists were no more likely to overestimate survival time than to underestimate it. Simple multiples of EST provide well-calibrated estimates of worst-case, typical and best-case scenarios for survival.

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press.


Last updated 07 August 2023